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How to completely hide windows, and SHELL directly into a Front-End

Okay, I finally succeeded in hiding windows completely this morning. I’ll give you a quick heads-up!

The first thing that you need to do is get a CmdLine MAME up and running with a good FrontEnd. I use The
Dragon King by Howard Castro (mainly coz’ it looks feckin’ awsome and it’s easy to skin! Also, it supports
automated shutdown of Windows, YOU REALLY WANT THIS TO HIDE WINDOWS COMPLETELY!)

http://www.oscarcontrols.com/lazarus/
I run this setup under WinXP Pro, simply because the USB support is second to none, you’ll find out what I
mean if you stick an I-pac into it! NOTE: this quick guide assumes you are using XP Pro, if not I don’t really
know how accurate it will be!

Right, now you’ve got your actual emulator up and running, lets hide that OS!

***PLEASE NOTE*** THE FOLLOWING GUIDE COULD REALLY MESS UP YOUR SYSTEM! MAKE
SURE THAT ALL OF YOUR ROMS AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WANNA’ KEEP HOLD OF IS
SAFELY BACKED UP FIRST, I CAN’T BE HELD RESONSIBLE, SO DON’T COME CRYING TO ME!

Right, now that’s outta’ the way, on with the show!

Google for a cursor editing package (shareware will do, you’ll only be using it once!). Install and leave it for
the time being. I used this one:

http://www.snapfiles.com/dlnow/dlnow.dll?Inc=No&ID=106645

There’s two ways to get ride of that bootscreen. Use a package designed for it, or make your own.

1. The safest way is to get a program and screen from the net. If you’re not a fan of trial and serious error, this
is the way to go, although if you create a custom skin for your FE, you may want them to match! Download
BootSkin from Stardock:

http://www.stardock.com/products/bootskin/

And get a decent skin. Either google, or try this one:

http://www.wincustomize.com/download.asp?SkinID=1015&LibID=32
After you install BootSkin, simply double click the downloaded skinfile and apply it. Simple!

2. The second method. Caution, SCREW THIS UP AND YOU MAY BE LOOKING AT A REFORMAT!
REMEMBER TO BACK UP YOUR NTOSKRNL FIRST! Now download and install BootEditor. This will
give you your custom boot screen. Be aware that you will certain runtime files for this! One of them that I can
remember off the top of my head is CMDCTL32.OCX I think. Run the program in compatablily mode for
Win2K and any errors will be reported on screen, then just google for the files you need.

http://www33.brinkster.com/userxp/booteditor.zip

**UPDATE** I Just DL’d Ultimard I-Pac utility, and it seems like all the runtime files you need come with it!
Just download and install! **Update**

http://www.andywarne.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/ipd_setup.zip

To create your bootscreen you will need a decent art package. Believe it or not I use Ulead PhotoImpact. Okay,
it’s cheap, but it does for most of the basic stuff! The instructions included with BootEditor (you’ll find a
readme in the extracted folder, FOR GOD’S SAKE, PRINT, READ, AND READ AGAIN! This can really
screw your system up if you cock up!)

Once you’ve created an NTOSKRNL that you’re happy with (by the time you’ve got this far, you should know
what I mean!), the only thing you have left to do is actually hide windows itself. Start by going into control
panel\sounds and make sure that your default scheme is set to NOSOUND (silent). Open your cursor editor
and create a cursor 1pixel in size, and in a dark colour (remember that you may need to be able too see it, a
shade of gray will do). Export the cursor you’ve made with a name you can remeber, and place it in the
\windows\cursors\ folder, we’ll be coming back to that later!

Now we’re going to disable the startup\shutdown screens.


Change from the default windows XP welcome screen to the older style by going to Control Panels>User
Accounts>Change the way users logon or off. Deselect the “Use Welcome Screen” checkbox.

To get rid of the startup and shutdown messages, enter regedit (Start>Run>Type “regedit” without the quotes.).
Using the tree on the left, browse through to the following entry:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE >Software>Microsoft >Windows>CurrentVersion> Policies>System

If there’s a DisableStatusMessages dword there, change it to 1, otherwise add it (right click, add dword) and
change it to 1.

Now you’ll have to change the background colour of the login screen. Even though you’ve disabled the login,
the screen will still load up in blue as it laoding the personal settings. Again, this is a registry hack like before.
Browse to the following entry:

HKEY_USERS>.DEFAULT>Control Panel>Colors>Background

The default value of this is an RGB value. For the sake of ease, if you change this to 0 0 0, you will get a black
screen.

While you’re in regedit, here’s the final hack:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

Look for a string entry called ‘Shell’. If it is not there, create a string entry and name it ‘Shell’. Set the value of
this entry to the name and location of your Front-end. For Dragon King, the shell entry may be
“C:\MAME\The Dragon King.exe” or wherever your Frontends executable is located. To repair this if
anything happs, bbot via safe mode, go into regedit, and change this value to “explorer.exe”. When you reboot,
you will find that you enter windows, and not your frontend! Simple!

Right, now for the cursor! If this isn’t changed at the logon level, you’ll see the mouse cursor for around five
seconds while windows loads your personal settings. This really spoils the effect! Download TweakUI:

http://www.systemsmedic.com/DownloadFiles/TweakUIXP.exe

NOTE: I got a newer version of this from MS and it was missing the option that I needed!

Once this is installed, go to Control Panel>Mouse>Pointers and change all of your cursors to the one that you
created earlier. Save this scheme as “MAME Single Point Cursor Set” or something. Don’t apply this yet, it’ll
make things bloody hard to do!

Right, the last thing to do is finish off making the cursor invisible. Go back to the cursor screen in control
panel, load your scheme and hit apply. It’ll be hard to see your cursor, which is why I left this till last! Squint
your way into your start menu and open TweakUI. Go to the LOGON option, and somewhere there is the
option to copy your wall paper etc. across to the Logon Screen. Hit apply and you’re done!

Restart your machine, and you should no longer notice windows at all! The only thing that really gives it away
is the status bar scrolling on the boot screen, but you can get rid of this using BootEditor, but I think it’s handy
to have a guide as to whether or not the systems crashed! While you’re in the front end, if you need to revert
back to windows, press CtrlAltDelete, enter the task manager (you will have you mouse back at this point, if
you can see it, or simply use the keyboard), end your Frontends, click on New Task, and type in explorer.exe.
Taa Daa! Windows! Simply navigate to control panel with your invisible cursor (once you hit the start

button things get easier!), and change your scheme back to the windows deault! Do your maintenance, and
restart the machine. Back into your FE! Y ou like!?!

Well, that’s how I did it. I think that using TweakUI would be able to sort the screens out the same way as it
did the mouse, but I haven’t tried it. If anybody has the time, creating something in VB to make this a ‘Tick
The Box’ process should be quite easy I would have thought?

Whilst most of this was put into my own words,I can’t take credit for most of this guide, I found it whilst
trying to do the same thing myself! The links were all active at the time of writing this. The original guide can
be found here, as well as a full WIP report for a scratch-built cab. It’s indispensible! Check it out, sign the
guestbook, and tell ‘im Ritchie sent ya!
http://www.upup.us/old/2003_09_01_old.html
If anyone has any corrections for this, PM me and I’ll edit the post, and give credit of course!

Edited by ritchiethebrit (08/06/04 05:44 PM)